Black Rings of Distraction

I had a big ol' Random Thursday post ready to go, but at the last second I decided you were probably tired of that meaningless, Content Free™ junk, so I pulled the trigger on a project that's been rattling around in my head for a while, ever since I ran across this website. It's called Center of Attention, and it's simply a series of scanned artwork from vinyl records, both singles and LPs (if those terms are meaningless to you, there's a reason you're still sitting at the kiddie table at Thanksgiving).

Now, this is all well and good and no one can argue that this piece of our cultural history should be preserved, if only so that codgers like me can recall a time when we mastered our technology rather than the other way around. But it also occurred to me that this focus omits something that's arguably even more important: the other stuff that comprised the records. You know, the black stuff (although it wasn't always black, now that I think about it)...the vinyl. So, here's my Big Idea: I propose to complete what Simon Foster's Center of Attention began by immortalizing the vinyl part of the records. Classic, huh. Don't hate me because I'm creative; I'm sure you have skills that I don't have, like macrame or curling.

I'm not going to completely try to be the yin to Center of Attention's yang, and not just because that sounds weird, but also because I don't think I have many of his records in my collection (although I do have the album, The Shape of Things to Come, by Max Frost and the Troopers; Simon is displaying the the B-side of that song, Free Lovin', on a 1968 single). He's got a lot of old R&B and blues records, and my tastes ran to mainstream pop and rock, with the occasional foray into the weirdness of artists like Frank Zappa. But, I think there's room in this field for all of us, don't you?

So, here's the deal. I'm scanning my 45s, and editing out the cover art so we can focus on the exquisite and unique beauty of the vinyl. Here's my first offering, a classic by the Monkees (and written by Neil Diamond), called A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You. But, silly me; I'm sure you'll recognize it as soon as you see it, even if you're not Dr. Arthur Lintgen.

Scan of 45 rpm record

OK, I know what you're thinking: "How do we know this is the authentic scan?" I could have pulled a fast one and substituted C'mon Marianne by the Four Seasons. It's a fair question, given the relatively low resolution of the image. I did the original scan at 200 dpi, magnified 600%, and the resulting scan is almost 300 megabytes, not really conducive for putting on a website, but absolutely detailed enough to provide a good sample. To on the image below to see the uncropped version of the cropped image (there should also be another teensy button on the popup that allows you to expand the image to its full, magnificent size).

Detail of 45 rpm record

If you happen to be a geologist, you might think this is reminiscent of core sample, with its layers of strata, and I guess that "H" at the bottom would represent - I don't know - Hell? There's got to be another explanation, but I got nothin' at this point. Perhaps a Discological Historian can enlighten us about the random letters and numbers inscribed near the center of each record. Are they the earliest anti-piracy efforts? Or just inventory tracking devices? Or something more sinister (I keep going back to the "H for Hell" thing)? It's questions like this that provide the scholarly justification for the time and effort I'll be sinking into this project. Don't thank me; that's just the way I roll.

So, what do you think? Is this research worthy of the Fire Ant imprint, or should I continue my quest for excellence in another direction?

By the way, I'm not the first yahoo to get the idea of scanning a record, much as I'd like to make that claim. This guy did it, and then developed software that could "play" the scanned image. Show-off.


How do we know you're not still pulling a fast one? To my admittedly untrained and presbyopic eye, that looks as much like an old black sweatshirt of mine (less a substantial amount of cat hair) as the grooves of some tasty vinyl.

I've read this post three times and still don't get it. I asked myself, "What in the world would compel someone to do this?" But I'll never be able to figure it out because I can't get past seeing the titles of your last two posts stacked in my RSS que. Disturbing.

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This page contains a single entry by Eric published on April 7, 2011 3:37 PM.

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